Superman Returns (2006)

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Superman Returns (2006)

Post  BoG on Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:09 pm

This was director Bryan Singer's reverential follow-up to the original 1978 Superman film and Superman II (80); it purposely ignores Superman III (83) and Superman IV (87).  With a gap of over 25 years, it's questionable that this homage to and copy of the classic '78 film was the proper way to go. The obvious point is - isn't it a little too late for what amounts to a sequel? - wouldn't a reboot have been the smart way to go? (which was the strategy followed with Man of Steel in 2013).  To me, this ended up as a pale imitation of the 1978 feature and therefore largely redundant. It has its elegiac moments, but is too studied and calculated in its form and function.

In the plot, it's about 5 years after the events of the first two Superman films; Superman (Brandon Routh) had gone on a mission into space several years before, researching the planet of his origin, and returns as the film begins. In his absence, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has had a son and moved on with her life, while Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) had avoided prison, married a rich old woman for her money (she dies in his 1st scene), and has begun to hatch a new plan for heavy duty destruction - again involving real estate. The story is problematic already - apparently everything came to a standstill, as far as big threats, after Superman left Earth and things heat up upon his return. It also doesn't make sense - Superman had just become set in his ways of being Earth's top defender by the time of Superman II, obligated to remain in his role, and now it's revealed he decided to just abandon everything and everyone for several years on some half-baked quest in outer space?
The other problem is the casting - virtually all the roles are miscast. Routh was hired mainly for his height and superficial resemblance to Christopher Reeve; he is a weaker version of Reeve, with a squeaky voice.  Bosworth is too young and bland as Lane. Spacey is simply angry during most of the film, a boring performance. Frank Langella is all wrong as Perry White, always best as villains; he might have been better as Luthor. James Marsden is in a nothing role as Lane's new beau. Parker Posey is wasted as the latest villain's moll, behaving like a goof.  And the little kid who turns out to be superhuman and related to Superman barely registers in any of his scenes, a moppet with a huge mop of hair nearly covering all of him. The film also has more than its share of dull scenes. Singer chooses some odd moments to linger on, slowing down all the action and the narrative. The poor plotting continues to the very end, when Superman manages to lift a mountain filled with Kryptonite and only succumbs to its effects after conveniently pushing it into outer space.
Probably the most intriguing aspect of this film is the usage of more footage of Marlon Brando, further cementing the connection to the 1978 film. It also says something that such old footage remains the most interesting part of this new film. And, the best action sequence - Superman saving an airplane - occurs quite early in the film, so most of the film is anticlimactic as far as the action. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
Super Trivia:
Luthor's very old wife is played by Noel Neill, the first Lois Lane of the cinema; also cameo by Jack Larson, the first Jimmy Olsen, as a bartender
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